Monday, February 20, 2012

Getting comfortable in a workout routine as a plus size woman

Getting comfortable in a workout routine as a plus size woman

Are you are larger woman?  I am, so I know what it feels like to the biggest person in a beginning running group, or a boot camp class. Here’s some advice to help make you comfortable and to make your experience really fun.
  1. Bring someone about at your level, whatever their size may be.  That way when you decide to run/walk, fast walk, or just walk as you get started, you will enjoy it, and not feel isolated. 
  2. You will get there!  When you are carrying more mass, it will take you a little longer to build the muscle you need to carry you the distance, but you’ll be surprised how fast that will happen.  But be patient so you don’t get injured.  Follow the 10% rule: increase intensity OR distance by NO MORE than 10% each workout.  Celebrate every small success.  Don’t get overwhelmed by the big goal, step by step is how you will get there.
  3. Understand heat.  When you are larger, the fat you carry is nature’s insulation.  So when you work out you will heat up faster than your skinny friends, especially at the beginning when your body is getting use to exercise. Pay attention!  Do not get over-heated.  Slow down.  It is OK.  Drink water. Wear a hat. Wear light wicking layers close to your skin so you can strip down as you heat up.  Junonia has what you need!
  4. Sweat is your friend.  If you haven’t exercised in a long time, it may take a few weeks for your body to learn to sweat again.  Until then be especially careful about over-heating!
  5. Talk, laugh, get to know your exercise “neighbors,” invite them out to tea after.  Don’t discriminate against them just because they are small! 

Tips from Anne Kelly, President of, specialists in plus size active and casual clothing.

This blog post from Junonia was created for Moms on the Run, a Minnesota-based organization about Fitness, Fun, and Friendship with 5k training classes for runners, intermediates and walkers.


Avocational Singer said...

These are great tips! Sometimes I think with extra weight on I even had to go slower than the 10% rule, like maybe a 5% rule so my muscles, tendons, ligaments really had plenty of time to strengthen to carry the extra weight.

When a person starts working out with dumbbells, they will often start with lighter weights and gradually increase them until they are doing their rep sets with much heavier weights. When I started running as an overweight person, I thought of that and how I wasn't starting with lighter weights, but going straight for the heavy ones. So, I had to be careful and do way less "reps" than I wanted to (in the case of running, I thought of each footstep as a kind of repetition).

Anyway, I also remember starting Kung Fu classes 4 years ago. I was the largest person in the class, a little older (in my 40s) AND I had not been active for a while. My face would get really red during the conditioning exercises (jumping jacks, pushups, crunches) at the beginning of class. A lot of times the instructors would look over with a worried look and say "Mrs. so-and-so, are you okay?" I think they may have been afraid of my overdoing it, but I was aware that I needed to pace myself and assured them that I was being careful.

It's hard to believe that I went from that point to having my black sash now. I'm still not the fastest or most flexible person in the class, and I've had to really struggle, but I am stronger now than I've ever been.

Jen said...

I agree - great ideas for getting started. I also suggest taking the initiative and introducing yourself to the leader/instructor of the group or class you're taking. I have found that letting someone know that I'm new and learning not only ensured that he/she was watching to make sure my form was correct, but also opened up amazing avenues of support and accountability.

JunoniaLTD said...

These are great tips, go at your own pace and introduce yourself to the instructor! Only you know what you are capable of and pushing it could lead to injuries. If you feel comfortable with the instructor you should feel more comfortable with the class!